16 October 2016

Network vs illicit trade launched in Subic Freeport

Representatives of various community sectors here formed on Thursday a grassroots network of volunteers to help fight illegal business activities in support of the Duterte administration’s drive against smuggling and counterfeit goods.

The Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) organized the network as a public-private partnership under the Fight Illicit Trade (Fight IT) Movement, which it had earlier established along its anti-illicit trade advocacy.

FPI Chairman Jesus Arranza, who is also Fight IT lead convener, said the movement brings together volunteers from local government units, law-enforcement agencies, business chambers, educational institutions, civic organizations and other community groups to commit in the campaign against illicit trade.

“Through the Fight IT Warriors network, the movement will be able to provide reliable intelligence to law-enforcement groups that will help them in tackling the illicit-trade problem,” Arranza said.

A recent report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) commissioned by European Chamber of Commerce said Southeast Asian countries are at the bottom of the pack when it comes to the fight against illicit trade. Worse still, the problem could grow, the EIU added.

Arranza said the Subic Bay Freeport was chosen for the launch of the movement because of its “strong sense of volunteerism and civic spirit supporting the administration in its programs, especially in the enforcement of laws and regulations.”

Subic’s strategic location as a regional transshipment hub, with an active port that handles tons of shipments daily, also makes it an ideal site for the kickoff, he added.

Around 300 volunteers were sworn in as the movement’s Fight IT Warriors during the movement’s launching at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center on Thursday.

Accordingly, the “warriors” pledged to report sightings of fake or smuggled goods, as well as suspected illicit-trade practices in their communities to help authorities apprehend and prosecute illegal traders.

The volunteers were also tasked to join and actively participate in initiatives fostering illicit-trade awareness and enforcement issues, trainings on counterfeit spotting and identification, and workshops to enforce actions against trademark violators.

Most important of all, network members pledged to promote the purchase of genuine products to show full support to the movement’s advocacy.

Meanwhile, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Chairman Martin Diño, who welcomed participants to the launch, expressed his full support to the movement.

“The entire Subic community joins our administration’s relentless campaign against criminality and corruption. And among the steps we are about to take is to flag the presence of illegal activities and raise the problem of illicit trade to the fore,” Diño said.

In the same occasion, The Fight IT Movement unveiled its full-feature web site www.fightillicittrade.com, which features a reporting mechanism for warriors as well as the general public. The site ensures the confidentiality of the sources’ identity, movement leaders said.

The public can also report sightings of illicit products in local areas through the web site and its local hotline 722-3409. (Henry Empeño, BusinessMirror)

“Fight IT Warriors” from the Lyceum of Subic signify their commitment to help combat illegal trade during the launch of the Fight Illicit Trade (Fight IT) Movement at the Subic Bay Freeport on Thursday. (HEE, BusinessMirror)